Increase in number of people jailed for TV license fines ‘extremely worrying’ says Crowe
Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe, responding to the news that the jailing of individuals for the non-payment of TV licences in the locality is on the increase, has said that it is extremely worrying and questioned the use of jail for victimless crimes like this.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“Last week, I am informed that seven people from this locality were issued a summons to be incarcerated in Mountjoy Jail for the non-payment of a television licence and associated fines for 2009/2010 period.
“They have been told to present themselves at Tallaght Garda Station where they are loaded on a mini bus and transported to jail to serve a sentence from four hours to a week in the jail.
“This week another twelve people are facing a similar fate.
“I believe that many of those heading to jail were not aware that they are entitled to apply for more time to pay their fine either through the court were they were convicted or through the appeals court.
“I am getting reports of people being summoned even though they do not live in the house where the television or radio is alleged to be and in one case where the wife of a wheelchair bound man (who is entitled to a free licence) is also facing jail time.
“I am also aware of a number of cases where people are turning to unlicensed money lenders in order to avoid going to prison.
“It is extremely annoying and upsetting for most people to hear of cases like this and the very real possibility of dangerous and habitual criminals being released early, to facilitate the arrival of these alleged debtors.
“The idea of sending people to jail is an uncomfortable reality but I personally don’t believe that sending someone to prison for a victimless crime like the non-payment of a licence does anything to enhance or protect our justice system.
“It is clear that the legislation to allow for structured weekly or monthly payments of these fines needs to be prioritised.”